Health24.com | Warning: These 10 everyday traps will make you fat

You know the saying: If staying in shape was easy, every man would have washboard abs.

Modern life is practically designed to make you fat. But if you’re prepared for the body saboteurs that will come your way every day, you’ll be better equipped to fight them.

Read on to prepare for battle.

1. Working long hours makes you fat

People who work more 40 hours a week are about 8% more likely to be obese, reveals CDC research.

Meanwhile, if you travel extensively for business (more than 20 nights a month away), your odds of being obese are 92% higher than if you hit the road one to six times a month.

How to lose weight despite your hectic schedule

Pretend you’re paying, even if you have an expense account.

In fact, especially if you have an expense account.

“People give themselves permission to be bad – an extra drink, a big steak dinner – because it’s with a client,” says Andrew Rundle, Dr.P.H., an obesity researcher at Columbia.

If you know you’ll be feasting on the company’s dime tonight, have salad or tuna for lunch.

Read more: 8 weird but completely effective weight-loss tips

Keep moving.

Stand up at your desk or during confer­ences, schedule walking meetings and find time to exercise dur­ing your workday.

Stuck in a hotel room? Do a no-equipment workout.

Meditate.

Working insane over­time can make you so hangry that you’re tempted to eat when you’re not really hungry. Meditation can help.

In a Journal of Con­sumer Research study, people who practiced mindfulness tended to have less weight fluctuation.

Read moreMotivate yourself to meditate

2. Getting you fired makes you fat

Maybe you spent too many hours in your cubicle listening to Mindfulness Practice, cogitating on the unfairness of life, until somebody from HR rudely disturbed you.

You have lost income – and as a result could start to gain weight, potentially at the rate of 2.5kg a year.

How to lose weight despite getting fired

Sleep well and consistently.

The stress of a sudden job loss can lead to sleepless nights and insomnia, say researchers at Penn State. So promote better sleep through exercise.

In a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, sedentary people who committed to a six-month exercise program fell asleep more quickly at night, felt more rested in the morning and had better-quality sleep than they did before the program.

Their anxiety and depression levels fell too.

Read more: Hack your hormones to gain muscle, sleep better and have more sex

Make your lunch.

Prepare a healthy lunch at night, just like you did when you had a job, says dietitian Susan McQuillan, MS, RDN.

Be sure to include protein-rich snacks, such as nuts, hard-boiled eggs and jerky, and keep junk food out of the house.

Form healthy habits.

Keep water handy while you polish your résumé. People in a University of Illinois study who drank more water than other beverages also consumed fewer total calories.

Raise your heart rate and burn energy by standing up every half hour to do two minutes of squats and lunges.

Read more: The best fat-burning exercise, according to science

3. Your partner’s cooking makes you fat

Living together brings joy and many potential problems, including a phenomenon known as “dietary convergence”, says Lauren Dinour, Dr.P.H., a professor of nutrition at Montclair State University.

If your housemate’s a broccoli nut, this could be good.

But it’s not so great if she’s a gourmand who lives to eat. When she’s cooking wonderful meals, you’ll feel the love – and that love may end up around your waist.

Most men will pack on 3 to 4 pounds after tying the knot, says Dinour. The same is true for unmarried couples who shack up.

Read more: Cooking at home can help you lose weight and drop body fat

How to lose weight despite your partner’s awesome cooking

Go on a lunch-and-shopping date.

Fill up and then hit the supermarket: An empty belly may make you favor high-calorie options over low-calorie ones.

Eat slower.

Count the number of times you chew food before swallowing; then double it. You could eat 15% less food!

Sweat together.

The same forces that fuel dietary convergence may also steer your exercise habits. If you become more active, your partner will likely follow and vice versa, American Journal of Epidemi­ology research finds.

So take the lead; it’ll be a lot less annoying than nagging.

Read more: Do men really sweat more than women?

4. Becoming a father makes you fat

First-time dads gain an average of four and a half pounds after the baby arrives, a Northwestern University study found.

And while you’re fattening up your dad bod, she’s slimming down: Most women lose half their baby weight within the first six weeks following childbirth and the rest in the next several months.

How to lose weight despite becoming a dad

Eat like a man.

New fathers tend to lean more on convenience foods, so they often gain weight, says Helena Laroche, MD, an assistant professor in internal medicine at the University of Iowa.

But you can make better food decisions – for yourself and your child.

Don’t let the kid dictate what you eat.

“People underestimate what children will eat,” says Dr  Laroche. “They assume kids will only eat mac and cheese and hot dogs, but that’s wrong.”

Kids are genetically hardwired to be skeptical of new foods, which keeps them from eating dangerous stuff. Fruit is an easy sell.

Read more: This man lost 64kg after cutting out these foods from his diet

Play like a child.

Go to the playground with your kid, Dr Laroche suggests, and don’t just watch.

Monkey bars are great for pull­ups. And let Junior’s nap time serve as your workout time.

Do planks (work up to three 1-minute holds) or pushups (do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 4 minutes) daily to strengthen your core and stabilise your spine, says Michael Wood, CSCS, chief fitness officer for Koko Fit Club, which despite the name has absolutely nothing to do with monkeys.

Sleep like a baby.

Shuteye is critical because you produce the hunger hormone leptin every two hours during your slumber, Dr Laroche says.

When you don’t log that sleep, you’re susceptible to carbohydrate cravings.

Satisfy your urge with an apple or a pear so you don’t reach for something that lacks filling fibre, like doughnuts or potato chips.

Read more: Short sleep linked to weight gain, study finds

5. Holidays make you fat

People can gain up to 3kg on holiday, according to University of Georgia research.

These gains often persist because trips can start you on a path of unhealthy eating that can continue for weeks after.

“You do so much damage in such a short time, you just can’t exercise enough to overcome it,” says study author Jamie Cooper, PhD.

How to lose weight even when you’re on holiday

Take a break from drinking.

Alcohol consumption can double during holiday, Cooper says.

Consider drinking every other day instead of daily. (The CDC recommends no more than two drinks in a single session.)

And drink from a straight glass instead of a curved one – you’ll sip 60% slower, according to British researchers.

Read more: This is the best type of alcohol to drink if you’re trying to lose weight

Pick one day to eat big.

Want to load up on hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs and pie at Aunt Mary’s birthday bash? Fine.

But don’t binge on leftovers on the following days.

“You can overeat for one day, but what’s more damaging is when you’re overeating for several days over your holiday,” says Cooper. “Over­indulging for a week is hard to undo.”

Hit the scale and exercise more.

Both are especially critical during vacation, and even better if you do them daily.

University of North Carolina research suggests that dieters who weigh themselves daily are more likely to lose weight and adopt weight-savvy behaviors.

Consider two-a-days; most people overestimate their exercise calorie burn.

Read more: There’s a strange link between your weight and your spouse’s

6. Turning 30 makes you fat

From here on in, you’ll be burning five fewer calories a day.

That’s 18 250 calories in a decade, or roughly 2.3kg. If you’re overweight already, your fat burners slow even more.

How to lose weight when you turn 30

Follow the right exercise regimen.

Exercise helps, of course, and if you must choose between cardio and weights, do weights.

Strength training helps you maintain or even increase your metabolism, a Harvard study found, and it burns more fat than cardio alone.

Do at least 20 minutes of strength training a day and, if possible, at least 25 minutes of aerobic exercise as well, says study author Rania Mekary, PhD.

People who did both gained the least belly fat.

Read more: 5 secrets to increasing size and strength with bodyweight exercises

Tune in to your hunger cues.

“Get used to eating when you’re reasonably but not too hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied, not when you’re uncomfortable,” says dietitian Chris Mohr, PhD, RD.

Assess your hunger on a scale of zero (famished) to 10 (stuffed). Think about how each level feels. Start eating when you’re around 3 – hungry but not famished. Stop at 7 – satisfied but not full.

Read more: 6 signs you’re not eating enough food–and it’s stalling your weight loss

7. How turning 40 makes you fat

Now you have another factor to consider: Your testosterone, which tends to peak around age 19, has dropped by 16%, according to British research.

That’s a problem, because testosterone helps you maintain muscle mass and stay energised.

How to lose weight when you turn 40

Find an activity you love.

In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, people were more likely to stick with exercise if they did it for enjoyment.

Read more: These are the 10 best exercises for men

Eat these key foods.

Also, nosh on nuts and beans for T-boosting magnesium, and mushrooms and milk for vitamin D, because D is good for T.

Reform your band of friends.

Guys who lack emotional support are 9% more likely to be obese, according to research in the journal Obesity.

Loneliness can lead to overeating, so prioritise your social life: Make new acquaintances and maintain the friendships you do have.

Steal a trick women use and organise your friends into categories – exercise, culture, music, food, hedonism – and meet up with a different group every week.

Read more: 7 eating mistakes you make after you work out

8. Turning 50 makes you fat

Your metabolism is heading south, kind of like your butt. As maintaining muscle becomes tougher, your body composition may shift into the danger zone.

For example, the average guy under 40 is 18% fat, according to the British Journal of Nutrition, but the average guy in his 50s is 22% fat.

How to lose weight when you turn 50

Work on your muscle.

Proof: The Pillsbury Doughboy is 51 this year. He’d look better if he pounded protein – 30 to 40g every meal – which stimulates muscle growth, says Men’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, MS.

Read more: 8 factors that make it harder to lose weight as you get older

9. How turning 60 makes you fat

Your naps might be doing you in. For every hour older men spent napping a day, they were 23% more likely to be obese, an International Journal of Obesity study found.

How to lose weight when you turn 60

Cut out your naps during the day.

But if you must snooze, keep them to 30 minutes or less – this length of nap wasn’t linked to any increases in metabolic syndrome, according to a new American College of Cardiology study.

Read more: How this man got his best body at 40

10. How getting injured makes you fat

About 14% of people who suffer a workplace back injury may gain a substantial amount of weight – 7% of their body weight or more – over the following year, a Dartmouth study suggests.

Pain that accompanies everyday functions tends to influence body weight – after all, who wants to exercise when it hurts to move?

But there may also be a complex psychological dance going on, says study author Benjamin Keeney, PhD.

If you think you won’t recover, you probably won’t rebound as fast or as well as you would have if you’d had a better attitude. (The slower your recovery, the more weight you’re likely to add on.) This is also true for surgery.

People’s expectations may shape their recovery quality, according to a study review published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

So if you want to shrink your gut, or at least ensure that it doesn’t expand, you may need to talk to a shrink.

How to lose weight despite getting injured

Take rehab seriously.

Keep in close touch with your surgeon, physical therapist and other providers, and follow their instructions carefully.

The exercises your PT gives you might not be your idea of fun, but positivity can mean a lot.

In a Greek study, knee surgery patients who gave themselves verbal commands like “keep standing” or “bend and stable” during exercises did better on a balance test than those who suffered in silence.

This kind of self-talk can bolster confidence and help you focus on technique, the researchers say.

Read more: 10 ways you can use 5kg dumbbells to transform your physique

Build a support team.

While you’re laid up, you might feel overwhelmed trying to manage your weight. Consider seeing a psychologist to talk about how the physical setback affects your mental health. (Find qualified pros at locator.apa.org.)

Men often feel disappointed when they wake up from major surgery and realise that they’re going to feel worse before they feel better, Keeney says. A therapist can help you stay on track.

Make eating right easy.

You need lots of protein – about 30g per meal – to help your tissues heal and regenerate, says Mohr. And aim for 10g of fibre per meal so you’ll feel full – making you less likely to snack as you’re lying around convalescing.

Pain can make it tough to stand for hours in the kitchen prepping food and washing dishes.

This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za

Image credit: iStock

Health24.com | 80% of pregnant women suffer from this condition

Heartburn is common during pregnancy, affecting up to 80% of women in their third trimester. While the symptoms may be frequent and distressing, the good news is that serious complications are rare.

Weight management

During pregnancy, pressure from the growing womb on the stomach may lead to acid reflux into the oesophagus and, consequently, heartburn. If you’re expecting twins, or even triplets, you’re even more likely to experience heartburn, as there’s added pressure on your stomach.

Progesterone, the “pregnancy hormone” that helps to nurture your growing baby, also tends to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), the valve-like structure between the stomach and the oesophagus. This may also lead to reflux and heartburn.

Furthermore, an unhealthy lifestyle, inflammation of the stomach lining or oesophagus, as well as overweight may contribute to heartburn. Excess body fat may compress the stomach, leading to heartburn – another reason why it’s important to manage your weight before and during pregnancy.

Antacids may not be safe

If possible, try to avoid using antacids while you’re pregnant. Unfortunately, their safety during pregnancy hasn’t been firmly established.

What’s more, research by the Universities of Edinburgh and Tampere in Finland recently indicated that children born to mothers who take acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy may have a higher risk of developing asthma. Even though more research is needed to confirm this link, it’s another indication that antacids may not be safe.

Experts recommend avoiding antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate during pregnancy, as these may lead to excessive blood alkalinity and fluid overload (oedema). 

Simple lifestyle changes may help

If you’re pregnant, heartburn is best managed through simple lifestyle changes. These include eating frequent, small meals, avoiding foods that seem to trigger heartburn, and staying upright for at least three hours after enjoying a meal and before lying down. It may also help to chew gum, as this stimulates the production of saliva, which neutralises stomach acid.

Interestingly, acupuncture may also help. The Cochrane Institute recently examined several research studies and found that women with heartburn who received acupuncture during pregnancy reported improved quality of life. For one, they were able to eat and sleep better.

If simple lifestyle measures don’t work, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe an H2 receptor antagonist or proton pump inhibitor. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest taking a calcium/magnesium-based antacid. These antacids, taken as directed, have the added benefit of increasing calcium supplementation during pregnancy.

Reference:

Mahan, LK. Escott-Stump, S. Raymond, JL. (2012) Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process – 13th edition. Elsevier. ISBN: 978-1-4377-2233-8.

Health24.com | Weak, crazy or witchcraft? Mental illness and cultural stigmas

We recently shared an article on postpartum depression on our Facebook page and received this unsettling comment:

“Our community; How we are raised; those symptoms are labeled as witchcraft, some say you are lazy, they may say anything to bring u down and make you ignore the problem, not get any help. We are expected to be strong, patient, take Care of the baby, the husband and maybe other kids then smile while doing it. Its damaging cz you’ll see this happen to your mom, aunt and think “it will be better” but no!!! you’ll grow up and also face it. Like its taboo, to just need taking care of yourself. Sometimes its hard being a young black woman.” [sic]

The comment was hard-hitting – it pointed out exactly how culture can influence one’s perception of mental illness.

At least one in three South Africans will suffer a mental health issue in their lifetime. And depression costs our economy millions in terms of lost productivity.

Mental illnesses do not discriminate; they don’t distinguish between race, gender, culture or socio-economic status – yet, the treatment and opinions are often influenced by cultural bias.

Cultural stigmas in South Africa

An article published on the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) includes the following: “Although the prevalence of depression in black South Africans is mostly uninvestigated due to language and cultural barriers, studies indicated that the prevalence is shockingly high.”

Elmarie du Plessis, a clinical psychologist, adds that there is a rather large cultural misunderstanding in these communities as some patients have to keep their condition a secret when they go back to their traditional communities to visit families, because Western medicine and psychologists are frowned upon.

The article published by SADAG also says the following: “Depression is seen as a personal weakness – this attitude is especially prevalent in the black community, and especially where women are concerned. Black women are viewed as nurturers, caretakers and healers of other people, and are supposed to be strong.”

According to Elmarie, traditional communities see mental illness as factors from “outside” – angry forefathers and witchcraft, for example.

“Many people never go for treatment because of the fear of judgement and the stigmas clinging to mental illness, especially if these stigmas are bound to cultural beliefs and religion,” she says.

From a Western perspective, many Christians believe that depression and anxiety are merely character flaws and even possession by evil spirits. An article published in the journal Psychotherapy in Australia mentioned that mental illnesses are often associated with criminal behaviour and portray a picture of sufferers as “unpredictable, violent and aggressive”.

Cultural stigmas across the world

It’s not only in the multicultural context of South Africa where mental illnesses are stigmatised. It’s a worldwide phenomenon across global cultures – covered extensively in Psychotherapy in Australia:

  • The Vietnamese believe in karma and consider mental illness as a form of punishment.
  • The Japanese view mental illness as a form of weakness.
  • Many Christians and Muslims have strong religious principles that prevent them from seeking medical help.
  • In older Indian regions, mental illnesses are also believed to be “from the devil”.

Not just cultural but also social stigmas

Even if you do not fall into one of these cultural groups, chances are you have come across some form of stigma associated with mental illness.

If you suffer from a mental illness, you can probably recall remarks such as “pull yourself together” or “sort yourself out” or “she’s just looking for attention”. These remarks are all examples of the stigmas and misconceptions about mental illness.

Elmarie says that it’s important to realise that mental disorders are treatable just like any other disease.

“People with depression are often considered ‘too weak to cope’ by those around them. They are told that depression is not a ‘real’ illness and that it’s all in their heads. Another myth we encounter is that medication will become an addiction.”

How to help those close to you

Mental illnesses present in many different way and can be difficult to diagnose.

SADAG lists a couple of the most common warning signs to look out for in friends and family:

  • A persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • A significant change in appetite
  • A significant change in sleeping patterns
  • A loss of interest in social activities and hobbies
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Severe mood swings
  • An increased use of alcohol, nicotine or other substances

Call SADAG on their Mental Health Line at 011 234 4837 if you need help or more information.

Image credits: iStock

NEXT ON HEALTH24X